focus- and flow-mode

I just came across two feature which I consider exceptional useful for writing with software:

  1. Focus-mode: the “iA Writer” software (viewtopic.php?f=4&t=14642&start=0&hilit=focus+mode)

  2. Flow-mode: WriteMonkey includes a flow-mode, in active flow-mode backspace and delete buttons will be disabled, no cut, copy and paste. This forces you to go along with you thought and text, no editing, no jumping back - like with a “real” typewriter.

I would be grateful if such feature would find there way into scrivener fullscreen writing.


Something similar to the first option already exists in full screen. If you mouse to the bottom so the control panel appears, hold down the Alt key to change the paper width slider to a paper height slider and then drag that all the way to the left. Depending on your font and zoom size and the paper width you set, you’ll be able to reduce the field of vision on your text to just a few sentences.

Learn something new everyday about this program! That’s a great tip.

Thanks Jennifer.

That is a good tip, thanks. But for me it is more a detour than a real “focus-mode” option. Or as they say in the MAC-forum (Focus Mode? - #8 by gusmcgee):

If you have a closer look at the introduction video on (from sec. 35 they introduce focus-mode) you will see the difference between focus-mode and paper width and properly understand the power of a focus mode.

I fully understand that this suggestion is out of place in a beta testing phase, I only want its place on the “nice to have list” because I see it as a advantage during writing on a computer.

The flow-mode is the other suggestion for that list - no cavort around while writing, unbeatable to generate a flow.


Just a quick follow-up. I also think iA Writer’s focus mode is very useful.

Reading this thread, I’m not sure that non-iA Writer users understand what “focus mode” is in that product.

Basically, however much text you have in the active iA Writer window … the sentence your cursor is in at the moment is dark/normal. All other sentences in the window at the time (presuming there is more than one sentence in the window) become a mid-gray. I find it very useful to remain … focused. See the jpg I attached.

Thanks for listening / considering.


I’m joining the discussion a little late but I too agree that both of the suggested features would be helpful. For me, particularly focus mode.

Before buying (more precisely, before beta testing–for free) Scrivener, I had narrowed the field down to a handful of options. I don’t remember the names of all the other software titles at this point but I do remember seeing focus mode in at least one runner-up and being greatly tempted by it. (Scrivener obviously won out overall.)

If there are legal (e.g., a copyright equivalent for legal protection of software features) or ethical issues preventing the features from being incorporated into Scrivener, knowing that would prevent exhaustive posts from users explaining why it is so helpful. Same goes for any of our Scrivener wish-list requests that are unrealistic because of the sheer amount of programming required. We’re adults, we can handle the truth. :slight_smile:

Agreed StaceyUK and thanks Jennifer! That customization certainly lets me improve the full screen view. I’m curious why it is not simply a second slider at the bottom of the screen, next to the horizontal one. Short of reading that tip, I don’t think I’d have ever figured that out. Great feature, take it out from hiding!

Alas, those of us who’ve been around for awhile are not so sure of this. There have been quite a few epic threads in which the L&L team tries to explain why a given feature is unrealistic, while the person advocating for the feature proceeds to accuse them of stupidity, incompetence, arrogant disregard for user needs, and ritual kitten murder.


I obviously can’t speak for the developer, but I’ve seen this kind of idea rejected for a few reasons. First, it’s dangerously close to crossing the line between handy tool and substituting the program’s interface for the writer’s own ability to focus. Second, while it’s no secret that Scrivener borrows metaphors from other software, there’s probably a reluctance to simply ape unique features from other people’s implementations.

The line between the latter is a bit fuzzy, but I like that Scrivener isn’t just mimicking other people’s design elements like other, unnamed COUGHstoryCOUGHistCOUGH software shacks that aren’t content to try their own metaphor combinations to distinguish themselves.

I yield to your greater experience on here but I would hope those events were the exception and not the rule. I’d prefer the truth over a lie or exageration from the developers designed to make me feel better. Further, I would hope the community came to the team’s defense in those cases, their hands are probably tied as to how they can respond. Anyway, thanks for the input friend.

While there may be some truth to that, it is not the job of the developer to determine if a handy tool is appropriate versus pure personal ability. To some, a pencil and some paper is all the handier a writing tool needs to be. Thankfully, companies like Scrivener disagree with them and produce writing tools with much greater capabilities that alow people like me to express myself better. I don’t feel adding an optional greyed-out text feature to the program will compromise a writer’s concience or ability to produce skill-based scrivenings.

Agreed, which is why I would be more content hearing we can’t because it is legally/ethically wrong as opposed to a lie or simply no response.

Just to be clear, no one has implied that the developers would lie. Keith (the inventor of Scrivener) goes to great lengths to explain when a feature is infeasable, and he doesn’t do it to avoid just saying “no, I don’t think that’s a feature that belongs in Scrivener”. I don’t believe any of the Lit & Lat team would resort to falsehoods just to avoid saying ‘no’. I’ve seen Keith say ‘no’ to feature requests on several occasions, accompanied by an explanation most times.

So let’s put this talk of lies to rest. As for no response… Lee, the Windows developer hasn’t been as verbose here on the forums as Keith, probably due to his concentration on getting version 1 out of the door and supporting bug reports being funneled to him during NaNoWriMo, which I’m sure brought an ocean’s worth of information his way.

Be patient; Lee deserves a breather after the hard press of November and with the holidays coming up, may be a bit busy trying to convince his family that he’s actually still alive.

But it is the job of the developer to have a clear vision of what the software is - I strongly believe that good software does not try to implement every single suggestion proposed by users. It is my job, however, to seriously evaluate every user request and think about how that fits in with the scope of Scrivener, with my vision of Scrivener, how it would integrate with everything else, and its technical feasibility. Also, I retain the right to reject requests purely based on my own personal dislike of the feature, because who wants to develop features they hate and place them into the program they use most themselves? I would say that Scrivener is roughly hewn by us and then refined by its interaction with users, through feedback and suggestions - but we avoid dangling every gaudy bell and ribbon from its extremities. :slight_smile: Of cause, one man’s tat is another man’s prized ornament…

Also, I should add that it is not always possible to reply in depth to every single user request - we are a small team and we get many emails and messages. We promise to read all requests, but we can’t promise to give a prolix rationale behind every design decision because it’s just not practical.

Regarding focus-mode, then:

  1. From a technical perspective there are issues. The programs that currently implement this are plain-text-based, Scrivener is rich-text-based. Rich text has a much larger overhead, and fading out text line-by-line would slow down typing. On the Mac (I know this is a Windows thread but we have to take into account both versions), for instance, this could be achieved by NSLayoutManager’s temporary attributes feature, but this is very, very slow on recent versions of OS X and has caused typing lag in Scrivener in the past when used in other features. (A plain text program can just change the colour of the text directly, making some lines darker, seeing as colour isn’t saved in plain text - with rich text you have to override the appearance of text that may appear in different colours, however.)

  2. From an ethical point of view, I can’t help but feel that this would veer into straightforward copying of another program that is currently doing something (almost) unique. As Robert said, Scrivener has certainly got features from other programs, but most of them are general use or have been integrated in new ways (Ulysses pioneered full screen mode, for instance, but by the time Scrivener arrived there were a number of programs using it, and it seemed a much more obvious feature for programs to have). Note that on their site the developers of IA writer place “patent pending” after every mention of Focus Mode: . I have my own thoughts about all of that but won’t share them here; I doubt Information Architects will get such a patent, but I don’t really want to enter that fray.

  3. From a personal point of view, I’m not entirely convinced by a “focus mode”, anyway. To me personally, it seems a bit gimmicky and doesn’t look great for the eyes. This is not to denigrate IA’s idea - I think it’s a good, unique idea; it’s just something I’m not really interested in for Scrivener. And although you say it’s not the job of the developer to determine whether a tool is appropriate - that is kind of the entire point of the developer, otherwise all programs would be chaos. :slight_smile:

Regard flow-mode, this comes up from time to time, but it’s another thing that I don’t think is appropriate for Scrivener. I can just see the support requests now: “My backspace key isn’t working!” You will tell me that no one would turn such a thing on by mistake, but you don’t have to answer five emails a day from users who have somehow managed to turn on a feature buried three menu items deep with no keyboard shortcut and a clear message of what it does and now have no idea what they turned on. :slight_smile: Not that design decisions should be taken to avoid support entirely, of course - but I personally feel that a flow-mode is something that imposes discipline, and that’s not really what Scrivener is about.

Of course, I also reserve the right to change my mind about all of these things in the future should I decide that these would be amazing features after all.

(As usual when I suspect that someone is going to disagree vehemently, I have used too many smileys. :slight_smile: )

While lie is a harsh word, the response I was getting to a request for information on why a suggestion wouldn’t work was that explanations have been tried here and didn’t work. That leaves non-truths (a lie, regardless of its severity) or non-disclosures (no response) as the only remaining options. I was the one that brought the word “lie” into the discussion but not with any accusations associated. I was responding to the explanation given to me.

This is all I was asking for. I have apparently not been around long enough to experience it so this would have made a great answer to my original question. For those of us involved in commenting and beta testing, there is naturally a greater than average thirst for understanding.

Nor do I and I have previously commented on the greatly appreciated interaction from this team. However, I was weighing in on the features proposed above and the responses were raising more questions than answers. Then you jumped in telling people that certain features essentially weren’t appropriate for skilled writers which came across as a smoke screen.

Agreed, as well any implications.

Neither I nor anyone else implied otherwise. Lee’s work is tremendously appreciated and I, as a paying customer helping out for free, have expressed my gratitude and sympathies to him and the team in other posts.

I suspect from your otherwise helpful post (replete with smileys and closing remark) that I am identified as a vehement responder. If I have put you or others out, sorry, I am just trying to learn and help out. I will shut up now.

I think Keith was saying the subject matter and the fact that he was ultimately saying, “No, this isn’t going to happen (until such a time as I may change my fickle mind)” was fodder for people to have vehement responses, as has happened in other threads; I don’t believe it was meant personally at all. It’s the end of the year and he’s getting skittish after some other wishlists posts. :slight_smile: (Oh no a smiley!)

Anyway, one other thing I forgot to mention earlier–there is a mode in the Mac version, not yet in Windows but coming, whereby you can have the current line highlighted in full screen (or in the regular editor, actually), so that would perhaps sort of provide a “focus mode” since it pulls out the text you’re currently working on from the surrounding text. It’s not sentence-based, as Ai Writer’s seems to be (but I’m unfamiliar with that and just going by the posts here) but line-based–still, if you’re really in the zone, especially if you’re plowing ahead writing and not editing, then that’s presumably all you need. So you may find that helps once it’s rolled out.

Thank you MM. I appreciate the clarification. Communicating without the benefit of seeing one’s face or hearing inflection is fertile ground for misunderstandings.

The potentially upcoming feature you mention in your second paragraph would be as good as focus mode. As far as I am concerned, sentence specific highlighting looks neat but is not necessary.

My desire for the feature relates to the screen becomeing a blur of characters after a while and keeping oriented during edits can be tough. Further, a focus mode-like feature ties in with a different topic I had started a while back titled “cursor like needle in a haystack.” I was finding it difficult to quickly locate the cursor on the screen and, at the time, I was promptly shown how to increase the size of the insertion block. It worked. A focus-type mode would help more with that.

Thanks again and I will certainly appreciate the feature you mention, if it should be included.

Eek, that’s not what I meant at all! I should have struck that comment out, I had a feeling it would be interpreted wrong. I was merely commenting on my over-use of smileys, that’s all - having spent thousands of words over the past week in another thread trying to explain why a particular feature wouldn’t fit into Scrivener only to receive some liberal doses of sarcasm from one user who refused to take anything I said into account, I was aware that I was smattering smileys throughout my reply in an attempt to avoid misinterpretation and a similar situation. Which clearly failed. :slight_smile: It certainly wasn’t intended as a barbed comment towards anybody.

I think internet communication is best summed up thus:

All the best,